Birdy King Land VR narrative-ride type experience

Posted February 25, 2015 by in All

All Demos: ,
Developer: Blacklight Studio
Demo Release Date: 20-02-2015
Version: 1.0
Type: Coaster Type Experience
Platform: PC
Download: Click Here
Control Schemes: Head Movments

Best Part:

Hanging off the edge as your race along a wooden bridge

Worst Part:

Unnatural movements in the finale
Bottom Line

All in all, Birdy King Land is imaginative and joyous, and I highly recommend it.






Comfort Level


Total Score

3/ 5

by Edmund
Full Article

Roller Coasters were one of the earliest and most prominent kind of experiential VR demos to emerge for the Rift.

And it’s not too hard to see why they’re a lot of people’s first-time VR experiences, even if they have a reputation for making people feel sick. They are short and exhilarating without the need extra inputs and they do demonstrate powerfully the ways in which VR can trick or confuse proprioception. The sensation of falling when you know you’re stationary feels quite magical, even if it also leaves you feeling queasy. Or course, when you’re simulating experiences that are designed to test your stomach anyway, some nausea is to be expected – some may even consider it a mark of success!

virtual reality birdyOnce you’ve tried a few roller coasters, however, you may not be in a rush to try many more, which is why it’s such a pleasure to see Parisian animators, Backlight Studio, re-envision the form of VR rides by injecting theirs with a simple narrative and a sense of humour. Their new demo Birdy King Land feels more like an animated short, reminiscent of an Aardman or Pixar, than it does a theme park ride.

After a slightly glitchy opening, you find yourself in the sidecar of a motorcycle. Your strange, cartoony companion arrives to bring a hamburger which is promptly stolen by a tiny bird. The chase that ensues is high energy and inventively choreographed and it features, in its short run time, numerous clever moments.

The great success of Birdy King Land as an animation for VR is that it almost always gives you multiple points of focus. Of course, most of the time you’ll want to keep your eyes on the road for comfort – but the chase will also have you looking up in awe, tracking your prey across your view, craning to see incoming danger behind you, or just turning to look at your buddy driving. This can leave you feeling like you might be missing something out – but in the best of ways as you’re well rewarded pretty much wherever you choose to look. In fact, I’d recommend that you ride Birdy King Land a couple of times rather than try to see it all in one run. At the speeds you’re moving at throughout most of the experience, you could make yourself sick by craning your neck too wildly. Its brevity means that you won’t mind giving it a couple of goes though and its vibrant visual style and the charming character design are a pleasure to absorb time and again.

virtual reality birdy 2My only real criticism is that the speed of the sidecar in the final segment doesn’t always feel quite right – slowing and then accelerating again in unnatural feeling ways. It doesn’t wreck the experience and by the time you encounter it, you’ll already probably be enjoying yourself but it is noticeable.

All in all, Birdy King Land is imaginative and joyous, and I highly recommend it. It could definitely make you feel a little sick but it’s short enough to mean that experienced Rifters will probably get through fine. I did have a newcomer report experiencing some nausea after playing though. I’d love to see some more experimentation with comfort-modes for this kind of thing. Backlight Studios should perhaps consider giving the player some speed options if they decide to create another narrative-ride type experience in the future – and I certainly hope they do.

Download Here



About the Author


Edmund Ward is a philosophy graduate who has focused on aesthetics and cultural critique in the information age. He grew up with 'the dream of the holodeck' and is prone to get very excited by new innovations in natural user-interfaces. Edmund is currently looking for volunteers to look after the glucose drip that will sustain his "fleshform" (as he insists on calling it) when he migrates permanently to VR.

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